Cape Cod memories
The year was 1970 when I flew to Rhode Island with my then 1 1/2-year-old daughter, Paula, my only child at the time, to see my father and meet my new stepmother, Janet. It was on that visit I was first introduced to Janet’s family’s Cape Cod house, which was only used for vacations.
A few memories of this visit remain. My little daughter, laughing and dancing around the kitchen floor as water splashed down upon her head while Janet exclaimed to my father, “What were you thinking?” That was when I learned never to put live lobster into a sink of water. Not that I’d be cooking lobster. I never knew what my father was thinking when he did that, but you may remember the column about my dad’s clambake and grill fire.
Janet’s grandfather Walter Winthrop Kelley (Pappy he was later called) was born on Cape Cod as were his 11 siblings, some who died in infancy. There were only three surviving Kelleys who left the Cape, only to return. Pappy moved to Pawtucket, Rhode Island, my father’s birthplace, and became a pharmacist until he retired at an early age and returned to the Cape to purchase several acres and build the currently standing home in 1934. All but one of the siblings eventually returned to the Cape, all of them living within a mile radius. Janet was five at the time the house was built and she spent her summers with her Pappy and Nana. Janet’s father Winthrop Freeman Kelley inherited the house from Pappy. Janet’s parents retired to the Cape. Her father passed away and then my father, leaving Janet and her mother to live together in the Cape house. My stepsister Pam acquired Pappy’s journal and was able to send me the history of the house. She also sent me an email, telling me of listing the house for sale and then the one saying it had been sold. Totally necessary, but sad for all of us.
Before knowing the sale of the house would come about, my youngest daughter, Amanda, and her husband, Wade, spent a week at the Cape. She had fond memories she wanted to share with Wade and I was so very glad they were able to go. When the house went up for sale, I had thought of returning one last time, but it wouldn’t be the same without Janet, who had since passed and one lesson I’ve learned in life, you really cannot relive memories, only make new ones.
My last visit to the Cape was in a lovely October, a few years before Janet’s passing. Janet’s mother, Betty (who passed away two months shy of her 100th birthday) was still living at the time. Pam was with us and she and I enjoyed walks around the block, using the outdoor shower for our showers, Janet’s delicious cooking and driving on a scenic drive into Chatham. It was a wonderful visit. Janet took us out for a special lunch. I had my heart set on a lobster roll, but upon seeing the exorbitant price, I decided on another entrée. “No, you want a lobster roll and you shall have a lobster roll!” Janet commanded. It was delicious.
When my children were in school and everyone up north was still living, we drove to Cape Cod and, because of room shortage in the Kelley house, Daddy and Janet rented the small cottage that sat almost in the front yard near the street for the five of us. Later, a young fun-loving couple, Donna and Jerry purchased this cottage and christened it, “Blue Moon.” We all were invited to come over, walk through the house and relive some memories. Everyone enjoyed their visit back in time.
On one of my last visits, Donna and Jerry had an impromptu gathering of neighbors with a delicious spread for all. What a nice time everyone had. Janet and I walked through the yard to meet all those enjoyable people. We didn’t have to worry about having had some champagne.
How very hard it is to say goodbye to people and places that are so much a part of our lives. One good thing that did come from the sale of the Kelley home was that Donna of Blue Moon had a brother who purchased the home. I was so happy to hear the news, having it purchased by almost family. May the old Kelley homestead live on many years with love and laughter still echoing within its walls.
Jimmie retired from Henry County Senior Services in Stockbridge, where she managed Hidden Valley Senior Center and resided for 38 years. She uses her newfound time writing (for The Times) and enjoying life!